Money

From From the Trees to the Stars

This planet has - or rather had - a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movement of small green pieces of paper, which was odd because on the whole it wasn't the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.

- Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

There have long been problems in our financial system and in recent years they have been becoming increasingly apparent to the general public. Huge trade deficits in the US, instability in Europe, in the stock markets, the collapse of the sub-prime mortgage market, the growing gap between rich and poor.

But in fact money itself is not inherently bad. Money is a clever technological solution to an inevitable problem.

Money was a brilliant idea when the hunter needed a table but the carpenter was a vegetarian.

Back in those days money was made out of things like gold and silver - materials that had significant intrinsic value. But it was neither safe, nor practical to carry and exchange large quantities of precious metals.

So it was also a good idea to come up with a trusted set of tokens that stood in for an agreed upon amount of gold.

Where did it all go wrong?

At what point in the long process of abstracting money further and further away from actually representing something of intrinsic value, did we go too far?

simplify the breadth of this page - should be bullet points about money, credit, insurance, bonds, stocks, etc